Germany says Apple must let other payment services use iPhone’s NFC

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Apple Pay Terminal
Apple Pay won't be the only service Germans see here soon.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

A new German law forces Apple to allow other mobile payment services to use NFC on iPhone.

Apple has allowed only Apple Pay to take advantage of the technology until now. But Germany has decided that it won’t stand for that anymore — despite Apple’s concerns.

Apple has loosened up NFC access a little bit. Recent updates allow third-party apps to use it for the first time. But rival payment services are still left out in the cold.

Some banks and services have argued that this approach is unfair. Australia’s three biggest banks have accused Apple of anti-competitive behaviour. But it could be about to change … in places.

Germany passed a new law on Thursday that forces the operators of electronic money infrastructure to allow rival access.

Germany forces Apple to open up iPhone NFC

The law doesn’t mention Apple specifically, but it certainly covers iPhone. And it means that Apple has no choice but to open up NFC access to third-party banks and payment services.

Apple is allowed to charge rivals for that access, but it won’t see that as a silver lining.

“We are surprised at how suddenly this legislation was introduced,” Apple said in a statement to Reuters on Friday. “We fear that the draft law could be harmful to user friendliness, data protection and the security of financial information.”

It is believed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office tried to step in and have the amendment withdrawn at the last minute. That obviously didn’t go to plan.

Other countries could follow suit

Other countries, particularly those in the European Union, could follow Germany’s lead and implement similar laws. And most iPhone owners would likely see that as a win.

The EU is already looking into Apple following a number of complaints regarding alleged anticompetitive behavior. Its tight grip over iPhone’s NFC technology is one of them.

Apple’s argument against it makes little sense. To suggest that it would impact user friendliness, or make aspects of iPhone more complicated, is an insult to fans.

And the security measures already in place on iPhone should protect rival payment services, and user data, just as well as they protect Apple Pay. Third-party options should not be less secure.